Art Therapy (Guide + PDF)

The current blogspot is based on the question “what is art therapy?”. It will define art therapy, the purpose of art therapy, the various types of techniques used in art therapy, the advantages of art therapy techniques and the efficacy.

What is art therapy?

Art therapy is a blend of art and psychology to facilitate human beings’ wellness. Art therapy is a merger of psychological practices and artistic interventions that includes activities based on creativity and projective techniques to make people aware of their inner process, suppress emotions, childhood conflicts, identify repressed feelings, recognize and deal with unresolved conflicts and unfinished businesses in life.

Art therapy is concerned with the use of artistic methods  to manage and treat the mental health disorders that are based on emotional anxieties and insecurities. 

Art therapy is centered on the belief that creative expression by humans in the form of drawing, painting and color can promote and facilitate healing among human beings. 

Artistic techniques are believed to be a great form of expression and communication of underlying conflicts. It promotes subjective well-being , fosters positivity, increases self expression and enhances self self awareness.

Art therapy is the use of art therapy techniques within a professional setup  in a professional relationship with a specifically trained person who is specialized in art and therapy skills. It is utilized by people who have underlying conflicts, traumatic experiences, conflicting parenting and other emotional anxieties. 

The major objective of at therapy is to enhance the quality of life through enabling the individual with healthy coping mechanisms to deal with daily life stressors. As a result of arth therapy, the individuals are more aware of themselves, better able to connect to their inner processes and have enhanced cognitive processes. 

Who is an art therapist?

An art therapist is a person who is specialized to be trained for the skills of art and therapy. He seeks training for art techniques and therapy skills that both help to facilitate human health. Art therapists are knowledgeable about the underlying human processes that play a role in human development. 

An art therapist is skilled with knowledge about counseling and therapy. They have a vast knowledge of clinical practices and psychological interventions. An art therapist uses art interventions not only in therapy but also in counseling and psychometric assessment. 

Psychometric assessment through art interventions uses projective techniques that are based on drawing and art. The assessment of personality through art yields results about an individual personality that are closest to being true as there is a less chance of malingering or impression management.

There is usually no age restriction for the use of art therapy interventions. All persons in all age groups can be treated or counseled through art therapy interventions by a specially trained  therapist.  

Art therapies can be conducted on an individual level on one to one basis or on a group basis. Art therapies are equally effective for focused group sessions and in person therapy sessions. The art therapy interventions can be administered with children, adults, teenagers, families and small or large groups.

The art therapists are specifically trained to draw inferences about the individual expression through drawings and paintings of colors. They interpret the symbols and metaphors to understand the personality patterns of individuals.

How to familiarize a client with art therapy?

Most clients are cautious about art and drawing. They are fearful to be evaluated on the basis of their drawing skills or unartistic nature. Clients are usually insecure of art therapy as being an effective treatment intervention. 

Generally clients are scared to express themselves through art activities. It usually appears as an unappealing, childish or immature form of treatment to the clients. Since the clients are more familiar with verbal expression, they initially resist expression through the art interventions.

However, once the therapist counsels them and facilitates them through the various art techniques, they eventually feel comfortable in expressing themselves through art. They are made aware of the fact that the goal of art therapy is not to create a masterpiece but to get in touch with your inner self and resolve the underlying emotional conflicts and traumatic or unpleasant emotions that hinder your psychological well-being.

Health issues treated by art therapy

Art therapy is beneficial in the treatment and diagnosis of a lot of mental health conditions and associated features. The most prominent ones are:

  • Anxiety disorder and associated features
  • Depression and other mood disorder
  • Acute stress or chronic stress
  • Post traumatic stress disorder and associated symptoms
  • Childhood trauma
  • Geriatric issues and emotional well-being
  • Family stress
  • Interpersonal relationship stress

Besides helping in the treatment of various mental disorders and associated features, art therapy techniques are a great source of providing an opportunity to individuals for venting out inner build of aggression and irritability.

Art therapy also aids the therapists to establish a rapport and therapeutic alliance with child and adolescent clients who are often more resistant to counseling and therapy.

Art therapy aids in fostering emotional well-being of child and adult clients. The therapy interventions are in themselves a great healing source to overcome the routine anxiety and stress feelings.

What are the advantages of art therapy?

The following are the advantages of art therapy:

  • Art therapy improves the cognitive functioning of the individuals.
  • Art therapy results in a positive perspective in life.
  • Art therapy improves sensory motor functioning of clients.
  • Art therapy is beneficial for clients with speech and communication disorders as they can better express themselves through art rather than engaging in verbal communication.
  • Art therapy creates better awareness of self among the clients
  • Art therapy improves individuals self esteem.
  • Art therapy enhances an individual’s emotional health.
  • Art therapy enhances client’s resilience.
  • Art therapy aids in identifying and resolving inner conflicts of personality
  • Art therapy surfaces the client’s repressed feelings and experiences to be dealt with by a trained psychotherapist.
  • Art therapy decreases the level of stress among individuals.
  • Art therapy distracts individuals from their daily negative experiences.
  • Art therapy facilitates reducing anxiety among the individuals.
  • Art therapy can be administered with clients of drug abuse or psychosis for supportive work and catharsis.

What are the types of art therapy?

The various types of art therapy are :

  • Music therapy that involves playing various instruments or listening to a specific type of music for self expressions.
  • Dance therapy is based on dance and movements to any instrumental or non instrumental music for expression of self.
  • Drama therapy involves role plays or acting out puppets to assume different roles and better expressive oneself.
  • Expressive therapy is a type of non-directive therapy that is supportive in nature. It is based on providing the client with an opportunity to clearly state their emotions and thoughts related to a life event or experience.
  • Writing therapy is also known as journal therapy. It involves forms of creative writing for the expression of thoughts and feelings. It is based on diary writing, poetry writing, story writing and writing dialogues.

What are the various techniques used in art therapy?

The various techniques used in art therapy are :

  • Colouring activities
  • Painting activity
  • Collage making
  • Doodling
  • Scribbling with paints and colors
  • Hand printing
  • Finger painting
  • Face painting
  • Drawing 
  • Sand play
  • Clay moulds
  • Footprints printing
  • Dream drawing
  • Puppet play
  • Role play 
  • Play dough models
  • Drawing my family

What is the efficacy of art therapy? (the effectiveness of art therapy)

The efficacy of art therapy has been empirically validated by many researchers. Art therapy techniques have been effective in producing positive effects on the emotional health of chronically ill patients. 

Research studies have stated that art therapy is highly effective in the treatment of adult trauma victims. The art therapy interventions reduce unpleasant thoughts and feelings to a greater extent among the trauma victims. Art techniques also facilitate in decreasing the symptoms of depression among the trauma survivors (Regev & Cohen, 2018).

Similarly , art therapy has been associated with an increased sense of self, improved self esteem and decreased level of depression and negativity  among the adult clients (Ching-teng, Ya-Ping & Yu-Chia, 2019).

BetterHelp: A Better Alternative

Those who are seeking therapy online may also be interested in BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers plenty of formats of therapy, ranging from live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions. In addition, unlimited messaging through texting, audio messages and even video messages are available here.

BetterHelp also offers couples therapy and therapy for teenagers in its platform. Furthermore, group sessions can also be found in this platform, covering more than twenty different topics related to mental health and mental illness. The pricing of BetterHelp is also pretty cost-effective, especially considering the fact that the platform offers financial aid to most users.


The current blogspot discussed the various facts related to art therapy and the function of art therapy in psychotherapy and counseling. We learned art therapy is a form of non verbal communication that enables clients to connect with their inner self and improves their subjective well-being.  We also elaborated on the various advantages of using art therapy techniques in counseling and therapy sessions and the research based efficacy of art therapy.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Art Therapy

How do you become an art therapist?

A person becomes an art therapist after having a licensed degree that is related to psychological practices and interventions in clinical settings. He further specializes in art therapy that uses art techniques for healing individuals in counseling and psychotherapy sessions.

What are the 3 uses of art therapy?

The 3 major uses of art therapy are:

Increased self awareness
Expression of the self

What does art therapy treat?

Art therapy treats mental health disorders and the related symptoms among individuals. It also aids to promote psychological well-being of patients suffering from chronic medical illnesses. Art therapy promotes emotional regulation.


Regev D, Cohen-Yatziv L. Effectiveness of art therapy with adult clients in 2018—what progress has been made? Front Psychol. 2018;9.

Ching-Teng Y, Ya-Ping Y, Yu-Chia C. Positive effects of art therapy on depression and self-esteem of older adults in nursing homes. Social Work in Health Care. 2019;58(3):324-338.

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